There comes a time in any long term relationship when sex is just not the same as it used to be. One day, it seems you wake up, and you realize the sparks are not flying. What happened to that feeling that you couldn’t wait to be with the other person? What happened to those butterflies in your stomach? Or, depending on how far along this path you are, what happened to your sex drive altogether?
Many people, at this point, assume that it is over. You tell yourself you have fallen out of love with your partner. You may decide to leave the relationship, or stay physically but leave emotionally and pretend (maybe even to yourself) you haven’t. Some of the ways that people do this are through cheating on their partner or just shutting down and concealing what’s really going on for them.
But what if there were another choice? What if reaching this point in your relationship were a normal part of what happens and not a crisis? In part, it can be explained through science. As some of you may have read before, hormones play a big part in how we feel and how we feel about sex in the early part of our union. (It’s just a general estimate, but what I’m referring to as “early” means the first 6 months. Could be longer, could be shorter.)
The hormones that originally had you tearing each other’s clothes off at the beginning are now replaced with hormones that create more of a feeling of attachment rather than horniness. It makes sense, for the continuation of the species, if you think about it. You get these raging hormones that make you want to hump like rabbits, the woman gets pregnant- job done- and then the attachment hormones set in to increase the likelihood that the couple will stay together long enough to raise a child together.
In addition to the hormonal factor, there can be other things at play that are causing one or both of you to have a lack of desire in the bedroom. Some of these things can be:
1. Having one or more children together. Sounds romantic, but it’s really not.
2. Having busy lives in general and neglecting to invest the time in nurturing the relationship that you did early on.
3. One or both of you having withholds in the relationship, important communications that could be anything from: ‘I cheated on you’ to ‘I’m feeling neglected and I want us to spend more time together.’
4. You are not very satisfied with the sex you’ve been having. When those raging hormones were there, it was easy to overlook, but now not so much.
So, what to do if you find yourself in this position? Below are a few suggestions on your path back to wanting and having fulfilling sex:
1. First of all, don’t panic, it’s so common that it literally IS normal.
2. Be transparent with each other. Be truthful about what your experience is. Set up a time to talk with your partner in a non-threatening way. Use “I statements” to describe how you feel and make requests about what you want.
3. Realize that changing your sex life takes time. It is a process. It can get better, maybe in some ways better than ever, but it won’t happen overnight.
4. Start wherever you are. If you don’t want to have sex with your partner, be honest about it. Then work from there to see what you can do to rebuild that feeling of connection. Sometimes a hug can get you started in the right direction. Or, how about cuddling? Or give each other a back or foot rub. Non-sexual touch is a great way to rebuild that feeling of connection.
5. Don’t force it. Stay in the moment. See what happens organically. Try to let go of any beliefs that things “should” be a certain way.
6. Seek outside help from a life coach or therapist when you feel like what you’re doing’s not working. Better to admit that you need help than to go it alone and possibly lose the relationship unnecessarily.